PENTATONIC SUBSTITUTION LICK
This month’s lick features a popular approach known as ‘Pentatonic substitution’. The opening section features an ascending G major Pentatonic (G-A-B-D-E) run over a G major chord. It’s the simplest and most effective Pentatonic to imply the chord. The second part contains a descending sequence using a common substitution for G major Pentatonic; D major Pentatonic (D-E-F#-A-B). Like many rock and blues guitarists, I prefer minor Pentatonics instead of major Pentatonics when soloing: I’m thinking of B minor Pentatonic instead of D major even though they share the same notes. To use this approach in any key, solo over a major chord with the minor Pentatonic starting from the major 3rd of the major chord. Here, we’re soloing over G major wPiEthNBTAmTOinNoIrC Pentatonic (B-D-E-F#-A); the B note is the major 3rd above G. However you view it (D major or B minor Pentatonics over G major chord) using a substituted scale results in a fresh sound. The unique aspect is that the F# note in D major/B minor provides a major 7th over the G major chord and you’ll never play a G note; the root of G major. It’s a pleasing way of re-using scales you are already familiar with. For inspiration, check out guitarists as varied as Larry Carlton, Eric Johnson, Danny Gatton, Shawn Lane and Joe Bonamassa. As you work through this lick look at the notes you’re playing, experiment and re-apply this approach. Consider that when you play a scale substitution like this, it is important to think of it in terms of G major, ending (and perhaps starting) on notes that are found in the G chord. The component G chord tones available
Pentatonic are B and D while F# (the 7th of an implied Gmaj7), A (the 9th of an implied Gmaj9) and E (the 6th of an implied G6) function as colourful extension tones.